McCleery, James Moore (No. 18221)

McCleery, James Moore


No. 18221, ‘C’ Company, 1st County Down Volunteers,

13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles

Killed in action in France on Saturday 1 July 1916 (aged  21)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Thiepval Memorial, France (Panel 138 to 140 & 162 to 162A & 163A)

Killyleagh and District War Memorial

Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) Roll of Honour 1914 – 1919 for

First Killyleagh Presbyterian Church


James Moore McCleery was born on 18 March 1895 in Killyleagh and he was a son of the Rev John Richard McCleery (Presbyterian clergyman) and Henrietta Frances McCleery (nee Hodgens) who were married on 8 June 1875 in Donegall Pass Presbyterian Church Belfast.

When they lived in Killyleagh their address was Riverdale Manse and they had at least seven children:

Florence Elizabeth (born 22 June 1880 in Magheranure, Co Cavan)

Henrietta Jane (born 30 June 1882 in Garvaghy, Banbridge)

John Richard (born 3 August 1884 in Killyleagh)

William Victor (born 17 July 1887 in Killyleagh)

Robert (born 29 July 1893 in Killyleagh)

James Moore (born 18 March 1895 in Killyleagh)

Walter (born 5 October 1896 in Killyleagh)

James Moore McCleery was educated at Armagh Royal School and he was described as ‘a splendid footballer and cricketer’.  At the outbreak of war, he was Apprentice Manager in Shrigley Spinning Mill, Killyleagh and he was an active member of the local contingent of the Ulster Volunteer Force.

James Moore McCleery enlisted in Downpatrick, he served with the 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in 108th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division and he was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.  His death was reported in the 21 July edition of the County Down Spectator and it was noted in the report that both he and his parents were ‘very well known in Bangor where they frequently resided’.

Lieutenant Fullerton, his platoon officer, described what happened during the advance.  Only 12 men of the Company were left when they reached the German trenches and they got cut off from the rest of the Division.  For six hours they held the position gained but when their bombs ran out they were helpless and only five men remained alive.  Lieutenant Fullerton sent Sergeant McCleery and the three other men back to a sunken road half way between the opposing trenches.  When the Lieutenant didn’t join them Sergeant McCleery sent men back to look for him.  Just as the Lieutenant and these men reached the sunken road on their way back a shell exploded beside Sergeant McCleery and he was killed instantly.  He has no known grave.

Sergeant James Moore McCleery’s mother, Henrietta Frances McCleery, died on 24 March 1931 (aged 76) and his father, Rev John Richard McCleery, died on 2 June 1935 (aged 89).